MLB posted a tweet the other day on former major leaguers who passed away in 2021. Most of them I were aware of but I few I hadn’t heard.
But in one way or another, a lot of them crossed paths with the Cincinnati Reds at some point in ways that I remembered as a Reds fan.
This is an obvious one because of the collision of Pete Rose and Fosse at home plate at Riverfront Stadium in 1970 is probably the most famous play in All-Star Game history. Game tied. Rose on second. Jim Hickman singles to centerfield. Amos Otis makes the throw. Third base Coach Leo Durocher waves Rose home. Bam! National League wins. Ironically, Fosse and Rose were friends. They had dinner the night before. The play epitomized the way Rose played baseball and in this day and age, you would never see it again in an All-Star Game. Not a chance.
Another obvious one— it was Aaron’s home run at Riverfront Opening Day in 1974— Marty Brennamen’s first game as a Reds broadcaster– that tied Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs. That one came off Jack Billingham and Aaron would break the record days later against Al Downing and the Dodgers.
This switch-hitting outfielder came to the Reds in the Wayne Simpson/Hal McRae trade to the Kansas City Royals along with righthanded pitcher Roger ‘Spider’ Nelson. This one didn’t work out for the Reds. Nelson had arm problems and Scheinblum got off to a slow start in 1973 (12 for 54 for a .222 batting average with 1 homer and 8 RBI’s) and was traded in the middle of the season to the Angels for two “players to be named later.” They were Terry Wilshusen and Thor Skogan, in case you’re wondering.
A journeyman left handed reliever, Jackson robbed Johnny Bench of a hit in the 1976 World Series with a no-look field of a sharp grounder behind his back hit up the middle. It was one of the few highlights for the Yankees in a Series that the Reds dominated and swept them in four games.
In the same Series, Bench clobbered his second home run in Game 4 off Tidrow to clinch the Most Valuable Award for the Series.
A Reds nemesis in the 1974 season was Marshall and the Dodgers held off the Reds in the National League West that season. It was a career-year for Marshall. He won the Cy Young Award as a relief pitcher but his career went downhill after that season.
On a personal note, I saw great pitching matchup at the Astrodome on June 25, 1978 when J.R. Richard went up against Tom Seaver. The Reds won 2-1 behind Seaver’s effort and a two-run homer by George Foster. It was the first game of a twin-bill (remember them?). Foster’s home run came in the first inning of the first game off Richard and the Reds were shutout the next 17 innings in a split when they were shutout in the second game 6-0. J.R. Richard was one tough pitcher.
Freehan and Johnny Bench were the starting catchers in the 1969 All-Star Game in Washington DC. Bench homered that night and was robbed of a second home run by Carl Yasztremski. Freehan was one of the best catchers in baseball during that time period.
Another arch-foe of the Reds and Don Sutton had a great career, mostly with the Dodgers. He was the starting pitcher in the famous Hal King game in July 1973 at Riverfront in which King won the game with a dramatic pinch hit home run that fueled a Reds comeback to win the National League West. Sutton had many battles with the Reds during his HOF career.
A pitching coach for Manager John McNamara. He replaced Larry Shepherd, who had coached Reds pitchers from 1970-1978.